A popular Albany physician and her two daughters were shot to death by her distraught husband in a secluded Tilden Park parking lot Monday night. He then turned the gun on himself.
Kevin Morrissey, who told acquaintances he had been a Central Intelligence Agency officer, used a recently purchased .357 magnum pistol to kill 40-year-old Dr. Mamiko Kawai and their two daughters, Nikki and Kim, ages 8 and 6, before turning the gun on himself.
In the days since the shootings, questions have surfaced about Morrissey’s past, including possible CIA ties and connections with a little-known doctors aid group, headed by a physician who was found dead of unknown causes in his Oakland home earlier this year.
East Bay Regional Park Police were called to the Mineral Springs parking lot near Inspira-tion Point about 7 p.m. Monday by a park visitor who reported hearing the sounds of possible fireworks in the area.
The bodies of the two children were found in the back seat of the family car, and the bodies of their parents were on the ground nearby. Police found a suicide note written by Morrissey at the scene.
The family lived in a modest frame home in the 1300 block of Northside Ave. in northern Berkeley.
A 1992 graduate of Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadel-phia, Kawai received her California medical license the following year.
For many years a family practitioner, at the time of her death Kawai practiced dermatology out of Aura Laser Skin Care Center, located in a suite at 500 San Pablo Ave. in Albany.
Morrissey served as office manager and bookkeeper.
Albany resident James Carter said he had known the couple since Kawai became the physician for his family soon after she began practicing medicine.
“We were supposed to get together for a barbecue in two weeks,” said Carter. “We’d been talking about it for a couple of years.”
Carter said he saw the couple a week ago, where they made plans.
“Kevin looked out of it,” he said, “like he’d had too many cups of coffee. The last couple of times I saw him he looked very stressed out.”
While Morrissey’s suicide note listed financial problems as the motive for his action, Carter said he doesn’t believe that was the real cause.
The couple had recently refinanced their Berkeley home and taken out an additional loan.
Morrissey told Carter he had been an officer for the CIA and had been stationed in the Middle East. According to his resume, Morrissey had served as a foreign service office for the U.S. diplomatic corps from 1983 to 1991, conducting an analysis for “the Department of State and related agencies.”
“He told me some intricate stories about what he’d done,” said Carter. “He said he was very frustrated with the CIA, and he complained about the bureaucracy. He told me he spoke three different Middle Eastern languages,” including Arabic and Farsi.
Morrissey’s resume also states that he served as a member of an army Special Forces “A Team” from 1974 to 1976, followed by a year at the United States Military Preparatory School, Ft. Monmouth, N.J.
Though most graduates of the prep school typically go on to West Point and careers as army officers, Morrissey attended the University of Texas in Austin, where, according to his resume, he graduated with an honors degree in Middle Eastern Studies in 1982.
“He was a real smart guy in many ways,” Carter said, “but he was always very hyper.”
After graduation, he worked for a year as a systems developer for IBM. A five-year gap in his resume follows, then his stint as a diplomat—or spook—followed by a variety of jobs, including a year as an information system specialist at Childrens’ Hospital of Oakland, 2000-1, after which he listed his occupation as a health care information technology consultant.
Morrissey also served as chief information officer and administrator of Medicine International, a physician’s group which sent doctors to war zones around the world and which, according to its website, trained mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan in emergency medical care and which also provided surgery for injured Sandinistas during the Nicaraguan civil war, as well as treating firefighters in New York after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Mark Edward Stinson, who served as executive director of Medicine International, was found dead in his Oakland home on March 3. According to the Albany County Coroner’s office, an autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death because the body was discovered “in an advanced state of decomposition.”
At the time of his death, the 49-year-old Stinson was a highly popular physician with the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, where he had served for more than two decades, most recently in the emergency department.
Like Morrissey, he had attended the University of Texas in Austin for his undergraduate years, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1983, one year after Morrissey.
According to the record of listings with the California Secretary of State, Medicine International is not incorporated in California nor did it file papers as a corporation doing business in the state, nor is it listed among the charities compiled by GuideStar, which compiles information on 1.5 million American non-profits.
According to Bay City News, Morrissey bought the murder weapon on April 19 at the Old West Gun Room in El Cerrito, a Carlson Boulevard shop not far from Kawai’s office.
He picked up the weapon May 1, after the mandatory waiting period imposed by state law.
Carter said Kawai was an affectionate, caring physician. “You’d see her in the supermarket, and she come up and give you a hug,” he said. “When the kids were sick and you called because the medicines didn’t seem to be working, she’d call you back even it was during the night.
“When you came into the office, she didn’t rush you, and she didn’t act like she knew everything. She was attentive, and you knew she really cared about you.”
Kawai had given up her family practice and opened the laser skin-care practice because of problems in dealing with her previous group practice with Summit Alta Bates Medical Center, said a family friend.
During her years as a family physician, Kawai won praise from patients who posted their recommendations on the Berkeley Parents Network website. One patient described her as “AMAZING! Super smart, kind, caring, thoughtful, scientific.”
“I feel I am getting much personal attention,” wrote another. While two patients depicted her as somewhat aloof—“not a touchy-feely type,” wrote one; “not incredibly warm” wrote another—most patients described an engaging and open personality, as did the patient who described her as “energetic and extremely personable.”
Carter said he found her an excellent physician, sensitive and caring.
Photograph by Richard Brenneman
A police officer closes off the crime scene early Tuesday morning.